Hurricane Gustav efforts continue in Commerce

Commerce – The City of Commerce Emergency Management Staff continues to man its Emergency Operations Center in the Hurricane Gustav evacuee effort.

On Sunday, registration began for evacuees already located in Commerce hotels. As of Tuesday there were 106 evacuees registered and staying in Commerce hotels, while 23 were sheltered in the Commerce Middle School, and five were staying in Berry Hall on the A&M-Commerce campus.

Commerce EOC was notified yesterday afternoon to expect anywhere from 30 to 40 more evacuees to come in and register.

The American Red Cross along with the university, city and county officials are providing shelter, food, hygiene kits along with medical assistance and other needs as necessary to support the evacuees. The American Red Cross held training at the university on Monday morning for volunteers willing to assist at the shelters. Approximately 40 area residents attended the training, aiding in caring for hurricane victims. All of City of Commerce employees were placed on stand-by Sunday evening and have reported for duty throughout the tour of the EOC activation.

Commerce ISD Chief of Police Joe Venable has indicated that sheltering evacuees at the Middle School will not disrupt school when children return on Tuesday.

Although the parking lot will be filled with cars, drop off of students will only be slightly altered. There will be cones in the parking lot directing the flow of traffic and students will need to report to the auditorium rather than the gym.

Teacher parking will be in the CTC parking lot. According to Commerce Middle School Principal Wes Underwood, all classes held in the gym and outlying buildings will be moved inside the main structure allowing a complete separation of students and evacuees. American Red Cross and Commerce Police Department as well as school employees will remain on the premises around the clock to ensure safety of students and the campus.

A&M-Commerce has worked in conjunction with the City of Commerce to support the Hurricane Gustav relief effort and provide housing for several more evacuees at Berry Hall.

For the safety of both evacuee families and students, all evacuees will be housed in a portion of the building that is separate from other student housing. A&M-Commerce faculty, staff and students have been advised to direct all hurricane evacuees to Commerce Middle School, where they must register with the Red Cross. The university-wide effort has received overwhelming support from every department on campus. The relief effort will not interfere with classes and the university will run normally.

For more information, contact one of the following:

City of Commerce - Marty Cunningham - 903-886-1182.

CISD - LuDonna Smithers - 903-886-3757.

A&M-Commerce - Randy Jolly - 903-468-8171.

Hunt County - Aaron Williams - 903-886-1182.